Playing catch-up (and overcoming a creative block)

1) R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

2) The worst thing about not having written for a while is the resulting need to catch up on things. The more time that passes there is more to write about and, consequently, there is also the challenge of knowing where to pick up again. Better to keep up on things a little, even if it means writing a little bit in the margins of a busy schedule – just something, even if it is not as elaborate as I feel is warranted.

3) The need to catch up on things has extended to my composition as well. I took a little vacation early this month and found it difficult to get motivated again when it was over. I realized this difficulty was due to a minor “creative block” – something I’ve been learning more about lately in a book by Victoria Nelson called On Writer’s Block. Basically, I fell into “thinking” (although it was largely not conscious) of my current quartet composition solely as something that I had to get done – an obligation – which, although it is the case that I have to meet a deadline, the need to work obscured the play aspect. I normally have fun when I compose and yet this can be relegated to a secondary priority when the composing is also required. The fact is, when I approach each session as something fun and playful, I get way more done. Realistically, there are times when a deadline has to be met and I might not be in the mood, but I work anyway. In those cases, I’ve most often found that when I get into the flow of the session it becomes fun. I’m grateful for this, not just for the project at hand, which surely benefits when it doesn’t feel like drudgery, but also because it reaffirms that I am in my element. It’s just that the pressures of a deadline and life, in general, can contribute to a sense of urgency, which can lead to a dangerous mental backsliding into an anxiety, which, I’ve learned, one’s subconscious will resist by erecting a block. Fortunately, a reminder to have fun and be playful was all it took to get me back into regular composing. Now, I’m behind because of the break, but I’m having fun catching up, allowing myself the space and time to put in extra sessions.

4) I picked this book up a while ago – I always seem to buy more books than I can possibly keep on top of – but started reading it a couple weeks ago due to my involvement in a new project, which will hopefully turn into an income generating pursuit for the summer. A couple of my colleagues from SFU recruited me to help with writing and production of a music/theatre piece for summer touring, which is to be sponsored by the Burnaby Arts Council if we pass the audition in April.

5) My improv group played at the West Coast Composer’s Symposium at the University of Victoria on February 6th. We did a structured improv piece that Chris Blaber designed based on gamelan music, which most of us in the group are studying. Chris and I are both interested in how to apply typical gamelan structures to non-gamelan music.

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